How Interviewing Subject Matter Experts Builds Traffic, Links and Credibility
Specifically, earned media was 80 percent more effective during the purchase consideration and affinity stages, and 38 percent more effective during the familiarity stage compared to any type of paid placement.
If you don’t have an in-house PR department or an agency, distributing content and obtaining earned media can be a bear. Without large-scale content-distribution capability, you have to find creative ways to get your content in front of more eyes and to get more links back to your site (improving your site’s ability to rank in keyword searches).
Interviewing external subject matter experts for your content–whether that is video, articles, blog posts, podcasts or webinars–can give your content an air of legitimacy and can potentially get more eyes (and links) coming to your website.
That same study found that 67 percent of consumers agree that an endorsement from an unbiased expert makes them more likely to consider purchasing.
Extend this thinking to your content marketing. I’ve worked with many clients who solely want to use internal experts as interview subjects for their content marketing materials. Is it possible for internal experts to be unbiased?
By adding external voices to your content pieces, you can show that you are concerned about producing engaging content for readers, rather than promotional puff pieces.
Credibility is only part of the story, however. In addition to credibility, you need experts who can help you build traffic and backlinks.
Finding Experts Who Can Help You Build Backlinks
I wish I could say that you should just select the smartest person in the field for your interviews, but it’s not that easy. You need to find someone who has followers and who hopefully has a website with a stronger domain authority than yours.
If you are on a shoestring budget, you can do a lot of this manually by searching Twitter to find out who is tweeting and writing about the subject you are writing about and then use the free MozBar to compare the domain authority of their site to yours.
If you have a little money, then the wonderful and inexpensive tool called BuzzSumo will save you a lot of time.
As you can see in the screenshot below (click to enlarge), BuzzSumo will help you filter out experts for a subject and understand everything you need to know about their level of influence.
In this search for “B2B marketing”, I can see:
– The domain authority of each expert. If I can convince one of them to link back to the article that they are interviewed for, I want someone who has a site with a higher authority than mine. It’s even better if you can find someone with a .edu or .gov URL (the holy grail of link building).
– Twitter followers. Once you have posted the interview, you want your interview subject to share the content to other people who will hopefully find it, read it and share or link to it.
– Retweet and reply ratios. These are the percentage of the person’s tweets that are either retweets or replies. I use these a measuring stick to determine how engaged this person is with their audience and how likely they are to engage with me if I ask for an interview (and if I ask them to share it after it’s posted).
– Location sorting. An important angle when you are trying to make headway in a new market. If you have a bank that is trying to make headway in the Houston market, start engaging Houston-area financial bloggers and writers for your content.
Contacting Subject Matter Experts
Why should any of the experts you find agree to contribute to your content? You’d be surprised to find that most people you contact are very willing to participate. They want to expand their visibility and influence as well. So shoot high!
I find it best to research the writing that an expert has done and to contact them by email citing very specific pieces that they have written and why this makes them a good subject for my interview.
A sample email might read:
Dear Mr. Xxxxx:
I was reading your blog post, “Marketing for the Masses” and feel that you are the kind of expert whose ideas would really add to a blog post I’m working on about the present and future of marketing.
I’d be interested in briefly interviewing you this week if you are available. This article would be published on our website Marketsense, a thought leadership site geared toward C-level marketing executives.
Please let me know a time that works for you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 123-456-7890. I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you soon.
I tend to reach out to five experts for any given piece of content. If you get more than one response, that’s great! You can always use excess content in another piece.
Share Your Content
It’s not just enough to interview these experts. Once your content has been posted, you have to promote it.
Start by informing the expert that the content has posted. This sounds like common sense, but I’ve seen this error made many times in content marketing–you’ve gone to all of the trouble to locate this expert, now you’ve got to make sure they have a link to share.
Also, promote your content through all of your social networks, and make sure to tag your expert in the posts so their followers will be alerted.
Track Your Success
Everything you do should be measured, including influencer outreach.
– Social media influence. How did the content perform across the social spectrum? Did your influencer share the content with their network? If so, what was the response in terms of shares and comments?
– Did the influencer link to you from their website? Did the piece generate any other links? Where from?
– Did you see an increase in traffic to the content from social networks compared to other pieces?
– Was the audience more engaged? Look at Google Analytics engagement factors like time on site, pages per visit and goal completions for traffic that entered your site through the influencer content. How do they compare to the rest of your content?
Track not only how individual influencers affect responses to your content, but also types of influencers that affect your responses. This will help you build a better picture of your audience and the content and topics that they respond to and help you determine the individual influencers that activate your content with your audience.
Influencers are a spectacular way to find new audiences, increase credibility and build quality links. Get out of your own neighborhood and find outside voices to bring a fresh perspective to your content.